What Can Remote PC Access Software Do for Me?
The top performers in our review are ScreenConnect, the Gold Award winner; LogMeIn, the Silver Award winner; and GoToMyPC, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 products.
Remote PC Access
There are many reasons you might decide you need remote PC access software. Whether you’re telecommuting and need to access your work computer from home or your business has an IT department that needs to be able to remotely control computers to fix problems, remote access is a key component of any business.
Using a remote desktop connection makes it easier than ever to reach an office computer from another computer or mobile device. Whether you or your employees need to work from home on a regular basis or you are out to dinner and remember an important email that must be sent before morning, you can access your work computer from anywhere on your personal devices.
This software is ideal for IT work. You can access computers remotely as if you were sitting right in front of it to access any programs that need updating or to troubleshoot connection problems. Many of the programs we reviewed are complete enough to suit a business IT department while maintaining usability so you can use it at home. Some of the programs even allow for web conferencing, so you can use them for demos, classes or working on group projects when everyone is scattered across the country.
Whatever your reason is, remote PC access can simplify your life and help you become more productive and connected. To learn more about this software, look at our articles about remote PC access software.
Is Remote PC Access Safe?
One of the troubling things about remote PC access is the idea that if you can access your work computer from home, someone else may be able to as well. That’s why we closely investigated the security available with each of these platforms. We considered the strength and ease of setup for the security features of each platform. All of the software allow you to customize the security settings on your remote session. These features typically include blanking the screen of host machine while you are accessing it, locking the keyboard and mouse, and disconnecting if the session becomes inactive for too long. You can adjust these features as well as create or change credentials to access either the program’s dashboard or remote computer.
Secure transmissions are necessary when working with remote computers, especially when you are using them to access sensitive or proprietary information. The industry standard is 128-bit encryption, but more financial and government institutions are moving toward 256 bits. Both encryption methods offer more than enough security. The 128-bit encryption protects you from outside attacks and maintains your performance. While the 256-bit encryption offers more security, likely more than you will ever need, it affects performance due to the longer encryption. Your motivation to use remote access software should help determine the level of security you need.
Passwords are a given for any remote PC access software, so we checked for IP filtering so that you can block access from specific computers even if the person has the password. This feature is particularly helpful in protecting businesses from former employees gaining access after their employment ends. Locking screens and keyboards so those near the remote PC cannot see what is going on allows you to work in privacy even when your computer is in an open office. An automatic time-out feature protects your computer from someone accessing it should you or an employee forget to log out from a session. Our security setup score takes all these features into account along with the ease of setting them up and changing them.
We found that all of the software allow you to adjust the security settings of each program, which typically include blanking screens and locking the keyboard and mouse. You can set up passwords using the security settings on all of the software. However, many programs require you to create credentials when you first install the software.
What We Tested; What We Found
Several factors help determine which remote PC access software will work best for you, whether you are using it to telecommute or fix a group of company computers all at once. We evaluated the security and sharing features, functionality, and usability of each program to determine which software is the best remote PC software.
All of the software give you access to applications and share files, so we looked for more advanced abilities, such as the ability to work with a remote computer that has multiple monitors. Having the ability to look at multiple screens on your single screen can be useful when troubleshooting the computer. Many of the software also allow you to access multiple remote desktops at once, called grouping, so you can set up demos or install updates to several computers without having to go to each individually. This feature is particularly helpful for IT when it is implementing changes to computers or updating software. While most of the software allow you to group together computers one way or another, we found that some programs made it much easier to use this feature than others. For example, Splashtop Business and TeamViewer both allow you to group computers with ease. The programs' clean dashboards house grouping tools where you can assign computers or users to specific groups and later perform large scale updates or the same action on the computers.
With cross-platform support, PCs, Macs and handheld devices can interact, so it doesn't matter if you or your employee has one at work but another at home. We tested how easy it was to connect from one device to another, including from PC to PC, PC to Mac, PC to an iOS device, PC to Android and vice versa. Our score takes into account how easy it was to connect to another device and how well the software performed while we were working remotely.
Sharing tools refers to the two-way communications between the remote PC and the local device. This includes chats, web conferencing or the ability to keep notes on a shared clipboard for later reference. While all software feature file synchronizing, the ability to drag and drop files between computers is an added convenience, especially if it works across all platforms. Sometimes, you only need to access a remote computer once, such as when helping your grandpa learn a new program. In those cases, a non-invasive guest invite that's simple to download is a plus. As with the remote features, we looked at the interface to see how intuitive these tools are and whether they required seeking out instruction.
Our sharing function score takes into account the features available during a remote session. For example, we looked for chat between the remote and host computer, a shared clipboard, drag-and-drop or file transfer tools, and other sharing features. We found that while most of the software allow you to drag and drop files from one PC to another, this feature typically was not offered across all platforms. TeamViewer offered the most sharing capabilities across all of its desktop and mobile platforms, making it the best PC remote software to use if you will be working with files between the host and client computer.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. We obtained the units in our comparison on loan from the companies. The manufacturers had no input or influence over our test methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication. You can also find a more IT-focused review of remote access software on our sister site, Tom's IT Pro.
What Else Is Important in Selecting Remote PC Access Software?
While the functionality, security and usability of each program greatly determines the usefulness, we also took into account the customer support option each company offers with its software. While all of the programs offer a knowledgebase you can use as a resource, the quality of the help differs for each software.
Each company offers a thorough knowledgebase you can use to address any problems that arise. While you can reach any of these products' technical support via email or help ticket, the best remote services provide free telephone and chat support. In addition to the knowledgebase, user manuals, help files and FAQs are helpful, particularly when the live tech support is only available during business hours or is located in another country, as is the case with some of our reviewed services.
It's not always possible or convenient to take your computer wherever you go, but there are times when having quick contact with another computer can mean the difference between a successful day and a disaster. In a longer-term view, accessing computers remotely means employees can work from home, which can save your company time and energy while increasing performance and job satisfaction. Remote PC access software lets you access your computers anytime, anywhere.
Verdict & Recommendation
Remote desktop software can improve the efficiency of your business and provide your IT department with a solid option for maintaining a large network of computers. These solutions are also helpful for remote employees who need access to the company network. We found that the best remote PC access software are ScreenConnect, LogMeIn and GoToMyPC.
When testing this software, we scrutinized the overall efficiency of each software, including ease of installation, performance and security. We found that ScreenConnect offers the strongest security that not only is easy to set up but can also be customized for each remote session. Using 256-bit encryption codes and IP filtering, this program keeps you protected as you access a computer remotely.
Between LogMeIn’s high performance and convenient features, we found it was a solid remote PC access option for both telecommuters and IT technicians. Not only does it work across all platforms, but the software’s dashboard makes it easy for technicians to group computers together when accessing or updating programs on a large scale. Similar to LogMeIn, GoToMyPC offers high performance and several convenience features.